Lawmakers dig deeper on high gas prices

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Lawmakers dig deeper on high gas prices

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NOTE: THIS STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE BOHOL CHRONICLE’S SUNDAY PRINT EDITION.

City lawmakers will dig deeper to know the real reasons behind the continued high prices of gasoline in the province, most particularly in city gas stations.

City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso told the Chronicle yesterday that the Sangguniang Panlungsod was “not satisfied” with the explanation given by petroleum distributors in the province during its regular session last Friday.

He said representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Finance (DOF) will be invited for discussion regarding this problem confronting the gas pricing in the city.

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The SP Committee on Public Utilities and Energy will pursue the investigation this week even as he finds it logical for this major problem to be deliberated by the city lawmaking body as a whole.

The session last Friday invited gasoline distributors.

Among those who appeared in the legislative inquiry were Servando Abaya, Jr. Of the Bohol JL Distribution Systems, Inc.; Angelo Racho, Petron Service Station; Danilo Abellana, Bohol Provincial Employees’ Multi-Purpose Cooperative; Anadelyn Estoque, Shell Depot supervisor; Rico Trinidad, Shell retail manager, Fredison Ingles, Florencio Caltex Station; Hydie Owens, Sailor Oil MBC Corporation of Mariveles, Dauis. 

However, Vice Mayor Veloso said there were more questions left unanswered during the session.

City Councilor Dodong Gonzaga, during the session, raised the question of why fuel prices in Tagbilaran are more expensive compared to Dumaguete City which is just barely one boat ride away.

Fuel prices here are P8 to P9 higher compared to the prices in Dumaguete City.

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The gas station operators could not give any hint for an answer to the question posed by Councilor Gonzaga who made a research on the fuel prices in Central Visayas.

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The investigation conducted by the city SP was triggered after motorists questioned anew why this problem of high prices of fuel has never been solved.

Representatives from the so-called “Big Three“ gas stations insisted that their prices are market-driven and mandated by their mother companies. 

They claimed to only have a P2.50-P3.00 profit margin per liter.

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The probe conducted by the city lawmakers came after the Chronicle banner story last Sunday which highlighted the marked difference of the gas prices in Tagbilaran City and the towns of Ubay and even Dauis which is just three kilometers away from the city.

The gas operators from the Big 3 (Shell, Petron and Caltex) stressed that unlike the “white stations,” they comply with the following government and industry protocols 1) Secure Certificate of Compliance; 2) Department of Energy (DOE) pump calibration testing per nozzle; and 3) sell treated fuel/oil products which have 10% ethanol and high-grade additives.

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They likewise cited their high labor cost since their gas stations are manned by a complete crew in full uniform as compared to the white stations which are being manned by just one or two pump boys.

Vice Mayor Veloso said that the public deserves to know how much is the “landing cost” of fuel in the province even as the Big 3 dealers claimed to have a P2.50 to P3 profit margin.

This claimed was proven wrong when all Caltex stations in the city suddenly made a promo few days ago giving a P3 discount per liter.

Motorists laughed off the claim of city gas dealers of a P3 margin since giving the P3 discount will leave them “profitless.”

The Big 3 dealers likewise said their products are considered “premium” compared to the products sold by the white stations since they add additives which are not done by the white station owners.

In fact, the Big 3 dealers hit back at the white station operators saying the profit margin of the latter could easily be at P20 per liter which a white station owner denied.

The city lawmakers will still have to invite a white station owner during their next session since the Big 3 already explained their side.

The public awaits the continuation of the investigation conducted by the city lawmakers including the query on whether the gas operators in the city have the Compliance Certificate issued by the Oil Industry Management Bureau (OIMB).

Vice Mayor Veloso assured motorists that they will continue their inquiry regarding the pricing of fuel prices here even as he admitted that it is beyond the power of the local government units to regulate fuel prices.

The Oil Deregulation Law has been blamed for the high, uneven prices of gasoline and other petroleum products in the country.

Further inquiry will be conducted by the SP Committee on Energy led by Councilor Vicente Polinar along with committee members councilors Philipp Besas,  Jojo Bompat,  Ondoy Borja and  Jonas Cacho.

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